is a 1966 British film
starring Michael Caine
. It is an adaptation by Bill Naughton
of his own novel
of the same name. The film was released by Paramount Pictures
The film tells the story of a young man who leads a promiscuous lifestyle until several life reversals make him rethink his purposes and goals in life. Alfie frequently breaks the fourth wall
by speaking directly to the camera narrating and justifying his actions. His words often contrast and/or totally contradict his actions.
turned down the role of "Alfie". He recommended Caine for the role.
The film features music by noted jazz musician Sonny Rollins, backed by Kenny Burrell, Jimmy Cleveland, J.J. Johnson and Roger Kellaway arranged and conducted by Oliver Nelson.
The end credits are unusual in that not only photos of the principal actors are featured,but also the main technical crew,including director Lewis Gilbert and cameraman Otto Heller.
The films begins with Alfie Elkins (Caine) ending a relationship with a married woman and getting another of his affairs pregnant. The film then follows his life for a few years, documenting events that lead to the character's emotional growth starting with the birth of his child.
Watching his child grow brings out a more caring side of Alfie, including his having a health check in case of hereditary diseases, but his inability to commit to the child's mother leads to her marrying a bus conductor. The health check reveals Alfie has shadows on his lungs. This combined with being banned from seeing his son leads him to have a small breakdown.
Alfie then spends some time in a convalescence home. Here he meets Harry, who confronts him about his delusion that he is doing no harm, and Harry's wife, whom he gets pregnant in a one-night stand. The subsequent abortion is a turning point for the character and the only time other than his passing out/breakdown where he exhibits real emotion - breaking down in tears at the sight of the aborted fetus.
At the film's climax, Alfie decides to change his non-committal ways and settle down. He chooses Ruby (Shelley Winters), who is an older voluptuous and promiscuous American he met while working in taking holiday photos. Unfortunately the day he chooses to suggest this to Ruby, he finds a younger man in her bed, leaving him disheartened at the film's end and wondering “What's it all about? You know what I mean”.
The film was nominated for several Academy Awards
including Best Actor in a Leading Role
(Michael Caine), Best Actress in a Supporting Role
), Best Song
and Hal David
"), Best Picture
and Best Writing (Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium)
In 2004 the magazine Total Film named it the 48th greatest British film of all time.
The film was remade
in an updated version starring Jude Law
Popular culture references
- Much dialogue from the film was sampled by the band Carter USM for their 1991 album 30 Something.
- The Divine Comedy released a single called "Becoming More Like Alfie" which features sampled dialogue from the film.
- Burt Bacharach was inspired by the film to write the song, Alfie, which became a top ten hit in the UK for Cilla Black. However, the song was never used on the British print of the film but it was included on the US version over the final titles when it was sung by Cher (produced by Sonny Bono). Even though the Cher version was used in the US version of the film, it was Dionne Warwick who had the biggest US hit with her cover version. Bacharach was pleased the song was used because it gained him (and Hal David) an Oscar nomination.